Lawmakers hold hearing about school consolidation

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Lawmakers believe now is the right time to consolidate school districts in Pennsylvania.

Currently, there are 500 school districts in the state and lawmakers say some of those schools and their budgets are spread thin.

"Some school districts are asking questions now because they either have a decline in population or they're going through some financial problems," said Democrat Senator Lisa Boscola. "So they're asking the Department of Education questions like what would a merger look like.'

However, consolidating would bring its own set of challenges like negiotiating teacher union contracts, rearranging school district personnel roles and managing school sports programs.

"That's why the Department of Education is where we have to figure out maybe a line item or two that we could- [help] us as lawmakers could put into the Department of Ed budget to incentivize these types of mergers," said Boscola.

Right now, lawmakers are looking at how other states like Maine, Illinois and, Maryland who have consolidated their school districts.

The main goal is to make the right decision for students.

"Opportunities for students may decline as a result of school districts not having the money to provide the kind education that kids need," said Democratic Senator Judy Schwank. "We should be taking a role here and stepping up."

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